“Those who cannot feel the littleness of great things in themselves are apt to overlook the greatness of little things in others.” ? – Kakuz? Okakura, The Book of Tea
“… the greatness of little things …” – could anything describe more accurately the humility of the Japanese tea ceremony? There are numerous ways to interpret the Japanese tea ceremony, but what about the people who practice, teach, and perform the ceremony as a way of life – as a way of preserving an ancient form of Japanese art and tradition? They are still alive and well all over the world and some are definitely not going to let this way of life die. Such is my friend, Ako Yoshino, from Shizuoka, Japan.
At a time in Japan when the young people are fighting the old ways and favoring new, modern, and western ways, and when green tea consumption is down in Japan and tea farms are being abandoned, there are some who believe in the wisdom and greatness of the old ways.
Ako and her husband, Hakuun Yoshino, are two rare individuals whose mission to preserve their heritage brought them together and joined them as husband and wife. As masters at The Japanese Tea Ceremony Academy, they each teach others the skills and the “greatness of the little things” in Japanese life through the art of the tea ceremony.
Both were clad in traditional Japanese attire every day that I was with them – something you really do not see any more on the streets of Japan. It is all part of their message to maintain what they value, hold sacred, and share with each other, and now the rest of the world, via their online correspondence Japanese Tea Ceremony instructional series.
Hakuun is a master potter and makes all his own pottery for the Japanese tea ceremony, also selling it to others from all over the world so they may have a genuine piece of hand-crafted Japanese art. In addition, he teaches the art of flower arranging for the tea ceremony. I was blessed to have him teach me both the tea ceremony and flower arranging – nothing like hands-on experience while in Japan!
Ako planned my entire itinerary for each of my visits to the Shizuoka Prefecture; she accompanied me on all my adventures and served as my interpreter as well. How blessed was I? I certainly could not overlook the greatness of all the little things she did for me during my trip.
Mrs. Yoshino has been to America; she teaches English at the University of Shizuoka and has translated several Japanese books about tea into English. You can find her on Facebook, as well.
I am forever grateful for the days and experiences Ako and I shared while in her country. It was like we were sisters – tea sisters – and we laughed like little girls. There was so much joy in her laughter that I truly felt the contentment of her heart, as well as its greatness.